It wasn't the same level of play as their previous two encounters, thanks mainly to the high stakes involved, but the intensity between Sickles and Gaither last night lived up to all the pregame hype.
In the end, though, it was Sickles goalkeeper Brandon Stout who stole the show, stopping all three Gaither shooters in the penalty shootout to send his side through to the Class 5A-Region 3 final. According to Stout, it was the first time he had accomplished such a feat in a shootout at any level, and as I wrote here for the Tampa Tribune, before a shot even got taken, you could tell before the shootout began that Stout was at the peak of his game.
The Gryphons will face Seminole in the region final after the Warhawks stunned district rival East Lake 4-0. As The St. Petersburg Times' Bryan Burns writes here, it was the first time in five meetings this season that the Warhawks had defeated the Eagles, and they did so by playing a flawless game, taking an early lead and racking up a 3-0 advantage by halftime.
In Class 5A-Region 2, Newsome's remarkable run in their first region tournament continued thanks to Steven Gonzalez, who scored a hat trick including the game-winner, as the Wolves rallied for a 4-3 overtime victory against Plant City. The Tribune's Jarrett Guthrie was at the game, and filed this report.
The Wolves will now host Auburndale, which continued its run from being a district runner-up to the region final with a 2-0 victory against Ridge Community School on Tuesday.
In Class 4A, Jesuit's season came to an end against a strong, and experienced, Palmetto team trying to make its second straight run to the final four. As the Times' Eduardo A. Encina writes, Jesuit's youth was a key factor in the 4-1 defeat, but Coach Bob Bauman remained confident his side would be back and stronger for it next season.
Mitchell, on the other hand, is going to its first region final after the Mustangs defeated Land O' Lakes 3-2. As The Times' Izzy Gould writes, early goals from mistakes by the Gators proved crucial for the senior-heavy Mustangs.
The Mustangs will face Celebration in the region final after it defeated Ocala Vanguard 2-1.
Berkeley Prep set up the showdown with Fort Myers Bishop Verot most had been anticipating with a 7-1 victory against Clearwater Central Catholic. Kevin Harvey and T.J. Roeh each scored twice for the Buccaneers, Roehn reaching the 104 goal-mark for his career, putting him one behind Tyler Davis for the Buccaneers school record.
Bishop Verot has just as easy a time against DeSoto County, the No.22 team in the latest ESPN Rise national rankings earning a 6-1 victory.
Tampa Prep also cruised into the region final, Wes Sever notching a hat trick for the Terrapins in a 7-1 victory against Indian Rocks Christian. The Terrapins will travel to face Vero Beach St. Edward's in the region final after the Pirates defeated Evangelical Christian 3-1 to advance to the region final.